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events may have, of course, pushed consumers to spend less this season including hurricane sandy and concerns about how tax hikes from the fiscal cliff could impact their wallets. joining us for more on the numbers is michael mcnamara of mastercard advisers. great to have you with us. many analysts, retailers had high hopes for the season. i think it's looking weaker than expected. of course we had hurricane sandy and we're dealing with the fiscal cliff, as well. what do you think the big driver was of these slower growth numbers? >> well, good morning. yes, you hit on two of the big ones. really the season tripped coming out of the starting gate with hurricane sandy. the impact in the northeast and mid-atlantic, both those regions of the country actually had negative holiday seasons for the holiday-related sectors that we track. other areas of the country that were not impacted by significant weather in the southeast, south central, mountain and west, were up 2% to 4% year over year. so really depended on where you were in the country, how but during the holiday season. >> okay.
of courses of hurricane sandy, plus the dampened mood cast over the country by the recent school shootings in connecticut. >> what's on today's agenda for you to follow in the united states? there's no economic earnings starting to speak of on this christmas eve. the markets will be closing early with the nyse closing at 1:00 p.m. even, the cme at 1:15, nymex at 1:30 and the cme global index closes at 1:45 eastern so basically they can go shopping. now, u.s. markets were higher last week despite friday's lack of a deal on the fiscal cliff. the nax das was up by 1.7% and the s&p 500 by 1.2%. that may have been the santa claus rally. we're joined now by ben lichtenste lichtenstein. ben, if we look at futures this morning, looking negative. it doesn't look as though santa is going to visit on christmas eve. >> well, we have seen a significant santa rally. if you look at the lower levels we were trading at earlier. if you remember, we sold off with conviction to the downside in the s&p as we tested that 1340 level. recently, a strong rally off that level. but, really, unable to get anything co
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